welcome to the disparate musings of a Christian-existential-zen-wanderer on the fringes of everything in pursuit of God

the problem with “safe” September 27, 2012

Filed under: Christian mysticism,faith,random stuff — GraceHabit @ 1:32 PM
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So – there’s an obsession – it seems – in our culture with finding “safe” people with whom we can have “safe” conversations and we desperately want to keep our tender underbellies safe from the slings and arrows of misfortune. And really – is that such a bad thing? I mean – really – don’t we have a word for it – when someone recklessly courts self-harm – called masochism?


The problem is – as the prophet Jeremiah via inspiration reveals in 17:9 – is that “the heart is deceitful above all else and is desperately sick” and the rest of scripture would imply that only God actually understands the drives and whims that govern our heart. The lack of accurate understanding of what’s actually raging in our chests – makes it highly unlikely that we can always determine what’s really relationally safe. I’m not speaking here to the profound tragedy that is abusive relationships nearly as much as I’m speaking to the plethora of little decisions we make – the promises we make to ourselves in the wake of an injury, insult or season of hardship about how “I’ll never again be vulnerable to …” fill in the blank. These decisions anchor our souls to a pain in the past – and by morphing the injury into a boundary-marker – we cement it into the fabric of our lives. This action – at least for me – makes it significantly less likely that God can actually move in my life – via forgiveness, gaining of new wisdom, greater comprehension of His eternal truths about me – and ultimately heal me from the injury. In effect – my determination to learn “forever” from the incident – assures that it will in fact be with me forever. And my “safety” device – has … presto! … become a permanent gaping wound – invulnerable to God’s loving and healing touch.

More and more – I slow (so slowly sometimes) learn that the safety I long for – and surely God does not want languish in pain from relationships – is only found in more love for Him, more love for His truth and His truth alone about the value of who and what I am, more forgiveness and healing from the wounds of the past – most of which were suffered primarily from an incomplete understanding of His Truth and Love than anything else. The insults, judgments and hurts suffered from those I “let in” only carry weight in so far as I believe their truth (little t) over God’s Truth (very very big T).


In the last few weeks as I strive to work with God’s efforts to minister to and pour love on those He’s put around me – the damage caused by the false hope of “safety” keeps coming to the fore – and so I’ve been taking it as a hint to examine myself and see what compromises I’ve made to God’s efforts to heal me with the cheap allure of false safety – and clean my spiritual house again and make more room for more of His Love and Truth. I hope this encourages you too.


Dick Eastman September 20, 2012

Filed under: Prayer — GraceHabit @ 5:55 PM

If you have ever wondered how you could possibly spend an hour in prayer – please let me introduce you to Dick Eastman. My discipler put me onto this guy in college – but he has a 12 part prayer method – which looks at 12 different kinds of prayers seen in Scritpure and has you spending 5 minutes in each style of prayer to make up an hour of prayer. The whole idea of an hour comes from Jesus statement to His disciples in the garden – “Could you not pray with me one hour?” (Mark 14:37).


The part about this way of praying for longer periods of time – is the way it incorporates listening and watching into prayer … it immediately points the new prayer-er towards the reality that prayer is far far more than reciting to God a laundry list of needs and wants – but rather it is the front-line in the war of our transformation. Prayer is also where God breathes life into our Spirits – and illuminate for us how He has made us to work with Him in His Kingdom on Earth.  


Actually – the little book that Dick Eastman wrote to teach this prayer method is available for nada mucho these days – and I encourage anyone who’s looking for more ways to spend time in prayer to pick up a copy. It’s as easy to pray a few minutes as it is a few hours with this method – and if you’ve never spent much time focused on listening, watching or meditating – you might find the discussion on how to engage in these practices invigorating. 


a brief absence …

Filed under: random stuff — GraceHabit @ 4:10 PM

My apologies for my absence over the last week – which was without a doubt the busiest of the year. It just wasn’t going to happen – well – not unless I’d been willing to forego any time alone with God – which would’ve been way too ironic. So – here’s hoping you had a great week – and that you’re headed for a splendid weekend.




I don’t know your question – but the answer is probably love September 12, 2012

Filed under: Christian mysticism — GraceHabit @ 8:26 AM
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Today was another one of those days when I awakened to a sense of regret. Not regret over what I planted in the garden, or skipping the car wash … but rather regret regarding relationships. Let’s be honest – it’s how we handle and mishandle relationships that burdens our souls and sullies the Kingdom’s reputation.


I do believe we’re all gritters – or scruffy looking nerf herders … or whatever … it doesn’t really matter. If today I’m an A-game gritter and you’re the undisputed best scruffy looking nerf herder – is one of us ahead? Or visa versa? Aren’t such differences without real distinction? Don’t they all sound just like James 2:4 – “have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?


Put in such a way – maybe you’d agree that we’re all on equal footing. But think about … well … you know who. Your one-time friend, your difficult relative, irascible neighbor, cantankerous co-worker, irrational client, clueless boss … . Maybe your wisdom allows you to remain calm, serene and selfless in light of all manner of interpersonal conflicts – but it seems like I gun for trouble too often. I get hung up on right and wrong – and get lost in ideals about “should be”. It’s par for the course for gritters and nerf herders alike to read passages like James 2:4 and think “Aha! God says I’m a judge!” and forget – what a delightful peace it is to bring our precious judgments to God  – and DUMP THEM. Not just the judgments – but the bitterness that fuels them. It’s hard to do that with a soul freshly pinched with pain – but it’s not nearly as hard as regret.


Maybe it’s universally human to long for the land of “Should Be” – but we all live Here, in the land of IS. And though it still rarely looks like it on the front end – experientially God proves over and over that the shortest route to the peace I long for is via the way of love. The challenge will be remembering that the next time I’m tempted to exercise some heavy-handed approach – and even more – going back the messes left here and there and adding more love, more forgiveness – in an effort to sow hope into the future. These lessons have enough meat to fuel a 1,000 hours of prayer and contemplation if not 100,000.


Love may seem harder initially … but I have yet to lay awake at night regretting it.


why mysticism – why not be charismatic? September 10, 2012

Filed under: Christian mysticism — GraceHabit @ 8:10 AM

This question came up in a conversation with a friend recently. Valid question. I’ll do some more thinking on this one – and probably use a phone-a-friend line (or two) to contact some devout followers of Christ more aligned with that tradition. For the moment however – I have to say off the cuff these two things do not feel like the same thing at all. In the years I attended a charismatic church I learned much – but not regarding mysticism or anything that felt like that. It was at that church that I first learned of the Jesus prayer and “breath prayers”.


The spiritual gifts as practiced in most charismatic and/or pentecostal bodies are for the benefit of the larger body – and seem to be more corporate in their orientation, development, and practice – whereas mysticism seems to be a largely solitary pursuit – though it is also for the edification and benefit of the larger body. If a group of mystics gathered and “got all up in your grill and mystical” – I’m not sure you’d actually see anything. The charismatics and pentecostals though … well … you know that you’d notice.


More than any stereotyping though – what really draws me to the mystical tradition is the rigor and self-discipline they applied to their pursuit of God. They were the real deal through and through – and their motives – because they were solitary – didn’t pose the same questions. The accounts of their self-denial and self-discipline are so pervasive – that even as a critical modern reader – it can’t be dismissed out-right as medieval exaggeration. They had something different going on than is readily found anywhere today. If it is to be found still today – and I truly hope it is – you’d need a whole different set of skills to find it … some sort of other-worldly radar as it were – to detect a level of rigor and devotion at the root of a major drive and longing for God.


‘Course – this discussion begs the question – at least for me – what if these two things could be blended in a synergistic fashion? What would that look like?


got juice? September 7, 2012

Filed under: Christian mysticism,faith — GraceHabit @ 7:48 AM

Howcome it seems so easy to settle for a AA’s worth of God? The toy-version. Scripture leaves me certain that what God’s offering is more on the limitless end of the spectrum.  If you’ve ever walked by a sub-station at the right time – you can feel the massive amounts of energy surging through these things – and sometimes you can even hear it crackling and buzzing. This idea has been rattling around in my head for quite some time. Surely God has some say in what our relationship with Him looks like and how it functions. Surely He offers far more of Himself to each of us than any of us actually accepts. 


But some people seem to really be tapped into a different sort of power source. The common denominator in these individuals seems to be they all walk by great faith, love courageously without bounds, and are obediently humble servants of the Lord.


No doubt – AA’s are not cumbersome – and they can be useful for small tasks … but they are also disposable.


But – I don’t want small tasks – or conveniently disposable god that fits into my pocket.



gritters welcome … cuz we’re all gritters September 5, 2012

Filed under: Christian mysticism,random stuff — GraceHabit @ 9:26 AM

Long before the term “white trash” crept up – my hometown highschool referred to kids existing on the fringe of dropping out, becoming alcoholic/drug addicted – and generally headed for working minimum wage and riding bmx bikes forever as “gritters”. None of us ever thought much about this term – it just was. And there was no greater shame to your teenage honor – than being called a gritter in the halls of the school – within earshot of all your peers.


Imagine my chuckle when years later reading the town facebook page motto I saw “cuz we’re all gritters.”


Now – all teenage existential despair aside – we’re not really all gritters … and yet again we are all truly big, mongo gritty Gritters!! No amount of pursuing this, or praying for that – changes anything. The only hope experiencing more of God’s presence offers anyone – is a glimpse, a faint breeze, and maybe sometimes a lasting image – of something so very not stuck in the muck with all us gritters. That hope in my soul that I can transform – and experience more of God – gives me Life. It puts the posturing, the social-Christianity, the jonesing – and the one-up-man-ship that gets tragically traded in lieu of true community – right in its place. Thank God Jesus loves gritters!


I can’t bear to post a picture of people under a post titled “gritters” – so here’s a pic of my pooch instead. 😀